Incoming Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin is managing the long days of her transition to higher office with a checklist that only seems to grow.
The former Santa Rosa city councilwoman, 60, is trying to come up to speed on county issues that include a controversial funding shortfall for road upkeep, stalled proposals for employee pay and pension cuts and looming land-use disputes.
In taking over representation of the county’s 1st District from Supervisor Valerie Brown, she has about five dozen appointments to make to county boards and commissions.
Despite having a massive financial advantage and the backing of powerful Democratic Party and union allies, Santa Rosa Assemblyman Michael Allen lost his bid for another term to a relative political unknown.
Imagine a Republican county supervisor from Crescent City winning the North Coast seat in Congress and holding onto it for 20 years. That’s what happened when Don Clausen, a World War II veteran, won the 1962 election in a district that stretched — as it does now, with some variations — from Marin County to Oregon. But that area of rugged coastline and liberal-leaning voters now has no Republicans in Congress or the Legislature, nor does any GOP candidate have a shouting chance of success in today’s election.
Three North Coast lawmakers were included in an Associated Press analysis that revealed that state Assembly members made 5,000 vote changes or additions during this year’s legislative session. The practice, while legal, is decried by critics as a way for lawmakers to play politics with their votes or hide their true positions on the issues.
Susan Gorin and John Sawyer long have been rivals on the Santa Rosa City Council, staking out contrasting positions on land use, fiscal issues and neighborhood involvement.
But the election to decide who takes over the 1st District seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, held for 10 years by Valerie Brown, marks the first time the political opposites have become opponents on the ballot.
The bruising runoff, now more than a year old, is being fought along familiar fronts for the candidates and their dueling political camps.
As the race for four seats on the Santa Rosa City Council enters the final stretch, political observers are focused less on Mayor Ernesto Olivares and Councilman Gary Wysocky and more on which candidates may ride their coattails into office. Both incumbents are expected to hold onto their seats on the seven-member council, leaving the fight for third and fourth place as the real battleground where the balance of power on the next council will be decided.
If the campaign signs springing up around town are the most visible sign of the current election season, and the robo-calls and mailers its constant drumbeat, then the routine roll call of endorsements is the background noise.
While rarely revelatory, they are a signal to voters and thus a required part of any bid for public office, political experts say.
‘It is incumbent that you have them,’ said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist. ‘Do they sway voters? No. But they point voters in a direction.’
In announcing their latest endorsements last week, Susan Gorin and John Sawyer did some more pointing to voters.
The race in a newly created state Assembly district that ecompasses part of Sonoma County and all of Marin County is starting to heat up in one of the few contests statewide to feature two Democrats running against each other. Assemblyman Michael Allen and his challenger, Marc Levine, earned the right to compete for the 10th Assembly District under California’s new top-two primary system. The race has gained attention in part because it is one of about two dozen in the state pitting members of the same party against one another in the general election on Nov. 6.
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, back from a nine-day trip to Russia, returned to the public arena at a pair of local events on Saturday but remained tight-lipped about the street fight that resulted in his arrest in San Diego nearly two weeks ago.
The 31-year-old supervisor shared no new information about the incident and refused to discuss how he is dealing with the ramifications, political and otherwise, that stem from his legal case.
Last week, police downgraded the charges to a pair of misdemeanor allegations: battery causing serious bodily injury and disturbing the peace. The San Diego city attorney now has the case and will determine whether or not to prosecute.